If you are seeking, you think you are doing this and that, but actually the Self is doing all. The Self is like a magnet. It’s magnetic force is always drawing you towards it. You are just being moved by the Self.
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The following are quotes from Nisargadatta Maharaj, taken from the book ‘I Am That’. The subheadings are my own additions; I have also added bold type where I felt emphasis would be useful:
Questioner: You were telling us that there are many self-styled Gurus, but a real Guru is very rare. There are many jnanis who imagine themselves realised, but all they have is book knowledge and a high opinion of themselves. Sometimes they impress, even fascinate, attract disciples and make them waste their time in useless practices. After some years, when the disciple takes stock of himself, he finds no change. When he complains to his teacher, he gets the usual rebuke that he did not try hard enough. The blame is on the lack of faith and love in the heart of the disciple, while in reality the blame is on the Guru, who had no business in accepting disciples and raising their hopes. How to protect oneself from such Gurus?
Maharaj: Why be so concerned with others? Whoever may be the Guru, if he is pure of heart and acts in good faith, he will do his disciples no harm. If there is no progress, the fault lies with the disciples, their laziness and lack of self-control.
On the other hand, if the disciple is earnest and applies himself intelligently and with zest to his sadhana, he is bound to meet a more qualified teacher, who will take him further.
Your question flows from three false assumptions: that one needs concern oneself with others; that one can evaluate another and that the progress of the disciple is the task and responsibility of his Guru. In reality, the Guru’s role is only to instruct and encourage; the disciple is totally responsible for himself.
On surrender to a guru
Q: We are told that total surrender to the Guru is enough, that the Guru will do the rest.
M: Of course, when there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one’s past, presents and future, with one’s physical and spiritual security and standing, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty; then the Guru is not important, for the disciple has broken the shell of self-defence. Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.
What if both guru and seeker are inadequate?
Q: When both the disciple and his teacher are inadequate, what will happen?
M: In the long run all will be well. After all, the real Self of both is not affected by the comedy they play for a time. They will sober up and ripen and shift to a higher level of relationship.
Q: Or, they may separate.
M: Yes, they may separate. After all, no relationship is forever. Duality is a temporary state.
Is meeting a guru a chance occurrence?
Q: Is it by accident that I met you and by another accident shall we separate never to meet again? Or is my meeting you a part of some cosmic pattern, a fragment in the great drama of our lives?
M: The real is meaningful and the meaningful relates to reality. If our relationship is meaningful to you and me, it cannot be accidental. The future affects the present as much, as the past.
How can I determine a True Guru?
Q: How can I make out who is a real saint and who is not?
M: You cannot, unless you have a clear insight into the heart of man. Appearances are deceptive. To see clearly, your mind must be pure and unattached. Unless you know yourself well, how can you know another? And when you know yourself – you are the other.
Leave others alone for some time and examine yourself. There are so many things you do not know about yourself – what are you, who are you, how did you come to be born, what are you doing now and why, where are you going, what is the meaning and purpose of your life, your death, your future? Have you a past, have you a future? How did you come to live in turmoil and sorrow, while your entire being strives for happiness and peace? These are weighty matters and have to be attended to first. You have no need, nor time for finding who is a jnani and who is not?
Tom: ie. knowing yourself is the chief aim, and this should be the focus of your attention, not concerning yourself about who is a real jnani/guru and who isn’t.
Q: I must select my guru rightly.
M: Be the right man and the right Guru will surely find you.
Direct pointing in 3 mins!
Before Zen spread to Japan and was known as Zen, it was in China and known as Chan. Here 8th Century Chan Master Hui Hai gives us a wonderful short-cut to enlightenment or nirvana:
Hui Hai: The Shurangama Sutra says: ‘Perceptions employed as a base for building up positive concepts are the origin of all ignorance (avidya); ‘perception that there is nothing to perceive – that is nirvana, also known as deliverance.’
Questioner: What is the meaning of ‘nothing to perceive’?
Hui Hai: Being able to behold men, women and all the various sorts of appearances while remaining as free from love or aversion as if they were actually not seen at all – that is what is meant by ‘nothing to perceive’.
Questioner: That which occurs when we are confronted by all sorts of shapes and forms is called ‘perception’. Can we speak of perception taking place when nothing confronts us?
Hui Hai: Yes.
Questioner: When something confronts us, it follows that we perceive it, but how can there be perception when we are confronted by nothing at all?
Hui Hai: We are now talking of that perception which is independent of there being an object or not. How can that be? The nature of perception being eternal, we go on perceiving whether objects are present or not. Thereby we come to understand that, whereas objects naturally appear and disappear, the nature of perception does neither of those things; and it is the same with all your other senses.
[Tom: what is being signified here by ‘eternal’ perception that is independent of objects? :-)]
Questioner: When we are looking at something, does the thing looked at exist objectively within the sphere of perception or not?
Hui Hai: No, it does not.
Questioner: When we (look around and) do not see anything, is there an absence of something objective within the sphere of perception?
Hui Hai: No, there is not.
Questioner: When there are sounds, hearing occurs. When there are no sounds, does hearing persist or not?
Hui Hai: It does.
Questioner: When there are sounds it follows that we hear them, but how can hearing take place during the absence of sound?
Hui Hai: We are now talking of that hearing which is independent of there being any sound or not. How can that be? The nature of hearing being eternal, we continue to hear whether sounds are present or not.
Questioner: if that is so, who or what is the hearer?
Hui Hai: It is your own nature, which hears, and it is the inner cogniser who knows.
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Question: During deep meditation peace is there all the time. But there is still a feeling that peace is something that can come and go. I know that this is just an idea, but I want to eliminate this idea and have the direct experience of the peace that never comes and goes.
Bhagavan says, ‘You are always the Self. It is just your notion that you are not the Self that has to be got rid of.’ How does this happen?
Annamalai Swami: The Self is peace and happiness. Realizing peace and happiness within you is the true realization of the Self. You cannot distinguish between peace, happiness and the Self. They are not separate aspects. You have this idea that peace and happiness is within you, so you make some effort to find it there, but at the moment it is still only an idea for you.
The Self is peace and happiness...You cannot distinguish between peace, happiness and the Self.
So, ask yourself, ‘To whom does this idea come? Who has this idea?’
You must pursue this line if you want to have the idea replaced by the experience. Peace is not an idea, nor is it something that comes and goes. We are always That. So, remain as That. You have no birth and no death, no bondage and no freedom. It is perpetual peace, and it is free from all ideas.
The ‘I am the body” idea is what is concealing it. This is what has to go.
The ‘I am the body” idea is what is concealing it. This is what has to go.
Question: So the notion of being the body and the mind comes back and covers the experience?
Annamalai Swami: Yes, yes. This idea, ‘I am the body’ is not there during sleep. Everyone enjoys sleeping, and the reason we enjoy it is because there are no thoughts there. It is the thoughts that arise that cause us all our trouble. There is no separate entity during sleep because no thought has arisen to create the image of one.
When waking comes, this first rising thought, ‘I am the body,’ brings separation, doubts, and confusion. If you can be without it in the waking state there will be the knowledge, ‘I am Ramana, I am Arunachala. Everything is myself.’
…this first rising thought, ‘I am the body,’ brings separation, doubts, and confusion. If you can be without it in the waking state there will be the knowledge…
Rama, Krishna, etc., are all you. It is just this limiting ‘I am the body’ thought that keeps this knowledge, this awareness from you.
In the waking state, the jnani has no limiting thoughts, no ego that identifies with a name and a form. His state is crystal clear. Ramana Bhagavan had no ego, no limiting thoughts, which is why he knew himself to be this peace, this happiness.
Ramana Bhagavan had no ego, no limiting thoughts, which is why he knew himself to be this peace, this happiness
The above excerpt is taken from Annamalai Swami Final Talks, Chapter 14
Annamalai Swami spent nearly 10 years of his life attending to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, listening to Ramana’s teachings and bathing in Ramana’s Silent Presence. He himself attained self-realisation and we in turn are blessed to receive these teachings from him.
I present these excepts for the benefit of all who are earnestly seeking and highly recommend you buy this text to support the editor who enabled these teachings to be shared with us all.
Here are some verse from Guru Vachaka Kovai, perhaps the most comprehensive and accurate record of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s spoken teachings. I have used this version which contains comments from Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James. Much gratitude to them for making this wonderful text available. My comments are in italicised red:
71. Just as the goat’s beard wanders and wags for nothing, people roam about merrily but in vain, doing Karmas for the fulfillment of their worldly desires, while despising the disciplines [followed by aspirants] which lead to eternal Moksha in Self. Ah, what a pitiable spectacle is the condition of these worldly people!
Tom: Ramana states that people engaged in worldy actions (karmas; the work karma literally means ‘action’ in Sanskrit, often used to denote cause and effect, here just refers to action) are to be pitied, and notes the irony that those who are ignorant shun the very practice (ie. self enquiry) that leads to eternal Moksha (liberation)
72. Longing for a tiny grain of pleasure, people toil so hard using the mind to plough the field of the five senses, but they never wish for the flood of Bliss which is the fruit that comes by ploughing the Heart, the Source of the mind, with [simple] Self-attention. Ah, what a wonder!
Tom: Simple self-attention is all that is needed instead of chasing all these pleasures which not only takes so much effort, but also causes so much suffering.
73. The moon-like jiva [the mind], ever wedded to the sun-like Self, should always remain in her home, the Heart; to forsake the Bliss of Self and go astray for worldly pleasures, is like the madness of a wife who spoils her precious chastity.
Tom: note the seeker’s job here is to discern the teaching rather that be side-tracked by whether or not this verse is politically correct in today’s social landscape. Ramana equates seeking wordly pleasures with infidelity. Instead we are to remain faithful to ourselves and abide as the Self in the Heart.
74. Only when the world’s allurement is lost will true Liberation be possible [and its allurement cannot be lost unless it is found to be unreal]. Hence, to try to foist reality upon this world is to be just like an infatuated lover who tries to foist chastity upon a prostitute.
Sadhu Om: A lover foists chastity upon a prostitute only because of his infatuation with her, and similarly some schools of thought argue and try to insist upon the world’s reality, only because of their immense desire for the enjoyment of this world. Therefore Liberation, which is the fruit of desirelessness, is absolutely impossible for them.
75. Only for the mad folk who are deluded, mistaking this fictitious world as a fact, and not for the Jnani, is there anything to revel in except Brahman, which is Consciousness.
Tom: There is only Consciousness
76. Will those who are rooted in the Knowledge of Truth stray to worldly ways? Is it not the base and weak nature of animals that descends to the sensual pleasures of this unreal world?
77. If you ask, “What is the benefit of sacrificing the innumerable sensual pleasures and retaining mere Consciousness?”, [we reply that] the fruit of Jnana is the eternal and unbroken experience of the Bliss of Self.
Sadhu Om: Any experience of worldly pleasure is small and interrupted, whereas the Bliss of Self attained through Jnana is eternal and unbroken, and is therefore the greatest benefit.
78. Truly there is not the least happiness in any single worldly objects, so how then is the foolish mind deluded into thinking that happiness comes from them?
79. Fools are now so proud and happy of the wealth and pleasure of this world, which may at any time abandon them in disappointment and distress.
80. Suffering from the heat of the three-fold desires, all living beings wander in the empty and arid desert of this dream-world, which is created by the whirl of past tendencies. The shade of the Bodhi-tree which can completely cool this heat is only Self, which shines as Turiya [the fourth state].
Michael James: The three-fold desires are for women, wealth and fame.
Tom: do not wander into the arid desert of the world, or ‘dream-world’ as is written above, instead be still, abide as the Self, That which you already are in your very Being.